S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

See, here's the deal:

Recent news of a possible label change has big implications for the Middle East - By labeling a military force in a sovereign nation a "terrorist organization," an unprecedented move, the Bush administration is moving into an uncharted area. And there surely are intended (or worse, unintended) consequences with such a decision being made in such a badly floundering and splintered foreign policy atmosphere. The headline is from The Financial Times, "US may brand elite Iran guards terrorists" . The story was by Demetri Sevastopulo and Gareth Smyth was on August 15 2007. To quote,

The Bush administration is considering designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the government in Tehran.

. . . “[There is] increased frustration over the slow pace and perceived lack of effectiveness of UN sanctions,” said Cliff Kupchan, an Iran expert at Eurasia Group. “The administration is telling the world, ‘if you don’t act, we will.’ ”

. . . Mr Kupchan said the administration had also been “outflanked on the right” by Congressional proposals to tighten sanctions on Iran that would include designating the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.

. . . George Kleinfeld, a lawyer at Clifford Chance in Washington, said the designation would limit the usefulness of that exemption. “Now, any US bank will have to be wary of whether any U-turn payment involving Iran is ultimately for the benefit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in which case they will be obligated to freeze such payment,” he said.
When thinking about the Middle East we must remember whose ideas have held sway over our current president (OCP)from the beginning. Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East views have turned into policy and subsequent action many times. The world needs to be wary again, as the current discussion turns into potential action against neighboring Iran. When the U.S. threatens other countries in order to force them to be tougher with sanctions, there is a history of U.S. aggression that should potentially influencing allies. They need to remember that Dick Cheney does not believe in sanctions. (Ironically he correctly predicted in 1994 what would happen if we invaded Iraq and then subsequently overrode his earlier convictions). This is according to Juan Cole who posted this at Informed Comment on Wednesday, August 15, 2007: "Dick Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire" A quote from Cole's quote,

"We seem to be sanction-happy as a government," Cheney said at an energy conference in April 1996, reported in the oil industry publication Petroleum Finance Week. "The problem is that the good Lord didn't see fit to always put oil and gas resources where there are democratic governments," he observed during his conference presentation . . . . . . Sanctions make U.S. businesses "the bystander who gets hit when a train wreck occurs," Cheney told Petroleum Finance Week
The current U.S. administration has never been successful with negotiations in the Middle East because it seems to prefer war. To be tough with Iran, to increase pressure while at the negotiating table with them, has little chance of success, because they cannot negotiate in good faith. They are not united within. Some in the Bush administration, namely Cheney and the other neocons, prefer war. The mixed diplomacy vs. war messages this sends to both friends and foes must keep many heads spinning. Again Juan Cole at Informed Comment has been posting very pertinent information about the emerging situation. On Friday, August 10, 2007, he posted "Cheney Urges Strike on Iran." To quote,

Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef of McClatchy report that VP Dick Cheney has been urging a military strike on Iran, but that Bush has decided for the moment to hit Shiite allies of Iran inside Iraq. (Since the majority of Iraqi Shiites are allies of Iran, he will have a lot of targets).
Congress is as badly split over what to do about the mess in the Middle East, as is the administration. The Bush administration has had a power struggle with Republican members of congress, as well as Democrats, over who is to be in control of foreign policy. And so far Republicans have had their way over the Democrats, as well as the administration. Remember that the Financial Times discussed the notion of labeling Iran a terrorist organization may have originated in Congress. Additionally, on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007 Jane Hamsher Firedoglake posted this good reminder of the recent history of Democrats caving to Republican pressures:

"Memories, Light the Corners of My Mind… : Dems remove Iran language from bill to boost war funding" By Christian Bourge and Peter Cohn - CongressDaily March 13, 2007.
House Democratic leaders bowed to pressure from conservative members of the party Monday, stripping language that would have required congressional approval for President Bush to invade Iran from a $124.1 billion supplemental spending plan provided to the House Appropriations Committee.
So here's the deal in the Middle East: The Bush administration went to a war in Iraq that Veep Cheney earlier had predicted would turn into a quagmire. The actual influence of the Vice President has been major in the past, but his level of current influence is unknown. The Bush administration thinks that branding entities as "terrorist organizations" assists with the so-called "war on terror," even though the Vice President has never believed in employing sanctions over making war. In practice, the Bush administration has a poor track record with both war and diplomacy in the Middle East. Finally, both the current administration and the current congress are badly splintered -
  • within political parties and between the parties
  • within the administration and within congress
  • and also between the two branches of government
Our leaders are completely unable to agree upon what to do to help make the Middle East a better place.
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Cross posted at The Reaction
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The Future Was Yesterday said...

The Bush administration is considering designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the government in Tehran.
And Iran is just going to stand there looking at us, saying, You must think you're talking to somebody that gives a s**t!

WTF are we going to attack them WITH???? We have nothing left.

Carol Gee said...

Future, you are right on with your comments. Sputtering, blustering, threatening, do not diplomats make. Nor is it a good military technique. The administration's behavior is so juvenile.
If the administration would employ my idea they would do better with Iran. My technique for temporizing a bad thing, i.e., is to characterize a bad thing as "the current . . ." as in "our current president (OCP)." All OCP would have to do is think "the current Iranian president," rather than "Iran" as a whole. It would help the U.S keep a realistic perspective.